Nepal reached Netherlands with a definite “underdog” tag attached to them and have till now done everything to prove it correct. Even then, scores of 88 and 94 in two completed innings was perhaps not what anyone would have thought about. The dependence on skipper Paras Khadka was bruitally exposed in both the games. Khadka is yet to get off the mark in the series and Nepal is yet to make a three figure score.
Unlike what the popular opinion has been about Nepal for over the years, it was not the conditions that did it for them on the first match. 5 wickets including 4 of the first 6 to fall went to spinners. Two batsmen were caught strangled down the leg side and Binod Bhandari was caught aiming a boundary. Nothing much was about conditions on much of those dismissals. Nepal needs to definitely fix these if they are to harbour any hopes of returning homes with some points in their kitty.
Standings and recent results
Netherlands are the unbeaten team of the tournament with 5 wins and 2 no results to their credit. On the other hand, Nepal have won only 2 out of their 7 matches.
Netherlands : WWWWW
Nepal : LWWLL
(most recent first, only completed innings taken)
Players to watch out
Whenever Nepal plays, Paras Khadka is always the one to watch out for. He had never been dismissed for a golden duck before Saturday and therefore perhaps has some points to prove. His captaincy, which was not much needed after the lacklusture batting display in the last match, has at times in the past been accused of being rigid and mainstream. If Nepal bowls first or sets up a decent total, his captaincy will be an interesting aspect of the game to watch out for.
Stylish left handed batsmen Ben Cooper, brother of a more famous Australia-bound Tom Cooper, would be eyeing a good contribution after his tame dismissal against Sagar Pun the other day. The batsmen is known to have issues with spinners but once he gets in, he is a treat to watch. An interesting face-off against army of Nepali spinners can very much be expected.
Having won the first match so convincingly, there are not much reasons for the home side to make a change. Barring last minute injuries, an unchanged side is likely to take the field tomorrow.
Ideally, Nepali team management would like to make big and impactful changes to their team but there are only so much to choose from. Binod Bhandari is under pressure to retain his place but lack of a proper death overs dasher in team might save him for another day. Nepal is likely to remain with same top five and bowling core.
Pitch and conditions
The second match will be played in the same ground as the first one so the conditions are are not going to be much different from the other. Good weather is expected for the day with some cloud cover in the mornings.
“We played horribly poor yesterday but we need to forget it and get on with our jobs.”
Nepali captain sounded determined with his words.
( Featured image : Raman Shiwakoti )